Wednesday, January 28, 2015

White to Bright: A Peacock and Raspberry Living Room, Plus a Few Tips on Color!

Have you heard of Chairish?  I discovered this awesome site a little while ago and totally fell in love.  Chairish is kind of like a Craigslist for designers. Except that it's available to everyone. And it's curated- meaning that you're not going to find junk. Just amazing vintage and designer pieces at great prices.

Chairish has found its way into my rotation of sites I like to browse while daydreaming about my dream house, especially now that I'm in the process of designing and furnishing the house we moved into last summer. Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when I was contacted by the Community Manager at Chairish about participating in this little project.  


The goal: take a room from "white to bright" using one of their rugs from their latest collection as inspiration.  I had a hard time choosing - there are so many beautiful rugs!  But I finally went with this gorgeous Turquoise Overdyed Turkish Patchwork Carpet.  Be sure to check out their whole rug collection here!  
Those of you who know me know that I love color. Seriously, sometimes it seems I can't get enough color in my life. Case in point: I currently have an orange sofa and dark teal chairs in my living room, and I'm in the process of painting my bedroom Pantone's "Moroccan Blue." I'm also working to incorporate greens and yellows into my living room and entry. It looks great, and even more important, it feels good.

We are surrounded by so many beautiful colors in nature.  Next time you are at a farmers' market, or even the produce section at your local grocery store, take a minute to notice all the different and vibrant hues of the fruits and vegetables!  Or picture the bold colors you might find at a Moroccan bazaar– naturally dyed textiles and huge bins of spices.  Color is the spice of life and I love to try and bring those colors and feelings into my designs.  

This living room keeps things relatively clean and modern, while giving off something of a bohemian vibe.  A cozy, lived-in look is achieved by mixing neutrals with bold colors as well as new furnishings with vintage (or vintage-look) finds.  See below for sources (and be sure to check out the great side table and throw pillow I found on Chairish as well!)




Here are some tips for taking your room from white to bright:
  • Keep your large pieces neutral. This is especially good for those of you who are afraid of color. (You know who you are!) Having a neutral base allows you to change out the colors as well as tone down/liven things up more easily .
  • Use something colorful that you love as a jumping off piece.  This could be artwork, a rug, pillow, book cover, your favorite plate, just about anything!
  • Build your room around these neutrals with colorful accents and accessories. If you're feeling particularly daring, add in a piece of accent furniture (table, side chair, etc.) in a key color.
  • Don't forget to mix in different textures along with the color, and throw in a few neutrals here and there to keep things grounded.
  • Choose a wall color last.  It’s a whole lot easier to match paint colors to existing furnishings, than to find furnishings to match a specific paint color.  

Get the Look

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"Birdseed" Hot Cereal

So, for my first post of the new year, I decided to go with something healthy.  Try to keep up with those New Years' resolutions, right?  :) 

A few years ago, my aunt created this "Birdseed" Hot Cereal or "Daniel's Pulse" (taken from the Bible story of Daniel and the King's food, in Daniel ch. 1).  Anyway, my aunt was reading about the health benefits of a number of different grains and after reading this scripture, she decided to combine all these grains to make a hot cereal.  

I love this cereal.  It's a great quick breakfast in the morning, that is substantial and leaves you feeling full.  I often make a little extra and knead the leftover cooked cereal into my whole wheat bread for some seriously good seedy-bread.  

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not birdseed that you'd buy at your local home and garden store!   While it may look similar, please don't cook that up for breakfast.  Also note, I'm not a nutritionist, nor is my aunt.  This hot cereal probably won't cure cancer or make your cavities disappear.  It will, however taste yummy, and it just might be a little better for you than certain sugary cereals.  :)  

"Birdseed" Hot Cereal 

  • 1 c. Kamut Khorasan Wheat 
  • ¾ c. Rye 
  • ¾ c. Hulled Barley 
  • ¾ c. Oat Groats 
  • ¾ c. Millet 
  • ¾ c. Quinoa 
  • ¾ c. Spelt 
  • ¾ c. Buckwheat
  • ¾ c. Brown Rice 
  • ½ c. Teff
  • ½ c. Chia Seeds 
  • ½ c. Amaranth 
  • ¼ c. Flax 
  • ¼ c. Poppy Seeds 
  • ¼ c. Sesame Seeds 
  • ¼ c. Hemp Seed 
  • ¼ c. Sunflower Seeds 
  • ¼ c. Pumpkin Seeds 
  • ¼ c. Sorghum (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a large storage container.  Mix thoroughly.  

1 serving = ¼ c. of birdseed


To prepare:  Combine ¼ c. birdseed with ¾ c. water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover and let soak overnight.  Reheat in the morning, stirring in any additions (a few drops of almond extract, cinnamon, chopped nuts, dried or fresh fruit, honey/maple syrup, brown sugar, or any other toppings you can think of).




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 12: German Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Be sure to check out the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies.


Well, another year, and another 12 cookie recipes have come and gone.  I can't believe December is almost over!  It's been a crazy year, and I can't wait to see what comes with the new one.  I've had so much fun doing the 12 Days of Cookies again this year, and I'll definitely be doing it again next year.

This time around, we finished just in time for Christmas Eve.  Will Santa be enjoying some of these cookies at your house tomorrow night?  He sure will be at ours!

When I was thinking about recipes for this year's 12 Days of Cookies, I was reading a book that kept talking about a German Chocolate Cake and I decided that some kind of German Chocolate cookie would definitely have to be on the list.  After a little contemplation, I dreamed up these cookies.  And boy, am I glad I decided to make them!

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, German Chocolate, and the cake made from it, are not German in origin.  Way back in the 1850's a man named Sam German created a mild dark chocolate bar for the Baker's chocolate company.  They named the chocolate in his honor: German's Chocolate.  As a culture, we have fallen in love with the chocolate, and everything made from it, but forgotten about the 's, thus creating some confusion about the chocolate's origin.

One thing that isn't confusing is how delicious these cookies are.  I loosely based my cookie recipe on a German Chocolate Cake recipe that came from my friend Jessica's Grandma.  The filling is a cream cheese frosting base, with toasted coconut and pecan.  Then, the cookies are rolled in a coconut pecan brittle that tastes just like the gooey topping traditionally on a German Chocolate Cake.

Did I save the best for last this year?  I'll let you be the judge of that!  :)

Have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season!  

German Chocolate Whoopie Pies

For the Cookies

  • 4 oz. German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 c. boiling water
  • 1/2 c. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs whites
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Coconut Pecan Filling (see below for recipe)
  • Coconut Pecan Brittle (see below for recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small, heat-proof bowl, stir together the chocolate and boiling water, until dissolved.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix in the vanilla and melted chocolate.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Set aside.  In another bowl, combine the milk and vinegar.

Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, alternating with the milk mixture.  Beat until smooth.
In a glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.  Fold into batter.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  These cookies will spread!  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.  Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, pipe equal amounts of the Coconut Pecan Filling onto the bottom of half of the cookies.  Top with the other half of the cookies, sandwiching the filling between the bottoms of both cookies.  Roll the edges in the brittle to coat the exposed side of the filling.  Store in an airtight container, with parchment or waxed paper between each layer.  Makes about 24 sandwich cookies.

Coconut Pecan Filling

  • 1 c. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. toasted shredded coconut
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, mix in the powdered sugar.  Stir in the coconut and pecans.


Coconut Pecan Brittle

  • 1/4 c. salted butter, melted
  • 2/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 c. shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 3 Tbsp milk

Mix all ingredients together and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Broil, with the oven rack on the second setting, about 5 minutes, or until brittle is bubbly and starting to brown.

Allow to cool.  Break into small pieces.  If brittle is still too soft/gooey to break, put back under the broiler for another minute or two.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 11: Peppermint Marshmallow Meringues

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies.


So I'll be totally honest... these cookies came out of a happy accident.  I was making meringues for something else and for whatever reason, it wasn't working for me.  I got a little frustrated with it and dumped it all in a pan and put it in the oven.  The result was magical!  These cookies absolutely melt in your mouth.  Soft and marshmallow-y, and lightly minty.  Oh, and did I mention, they're dipped in chocolate?

Peppermint Marshmallow Meringues

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • Candy canes or peppermint candies (I think I used 7-8 mini candy canes)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl (very clean metal or glass works best), beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt to soft peaks.

Mix in the peppermint extract and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper.  Cut two strips the width of the bottom of the pan, and long enough to come up over the sides.  Criss-cross them in the pan, covering the bottom and sides.  (This will also give you a handle to lift out the meringue once it's cooked.)

Pour meringue into pan and smooth out the top.  Bake about 1 1/2 hours.  Turn off heat and crack open the oven door, letting the meringue cool slowly in the oven.

When completely cool, lift out meringue and cut into 16 squares.  (*Note: I found it easier to cut if I washed the sticky off of the  knife in between each cut.)  Cut each square in half on the diagonal, making 32 triangles.  Set aside.

In a double boiler, or heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter.

Meanwhile, put the candy canes in a zip top bag and crust to a powder with the flat side of a meat mallet.  Alternately, pulse them in a food processor until finely crushed.  Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

Gently dip one side of the triangle into the chocolate and then into the peppermint dust.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and allow chocolate to set up.


Store in an airtight container.  Makes 32.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 10: Snowball Cookies

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies.


This is another recipe I've had floating around for years.  I've had this kind of cookie a number of times, but for whatever reason, I never got around to making them myself.  Until now.

There are many names for this kind of cookie... Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Wedding Cookies, and of course, Snowball Cookies, to name a few.  I love how these cookies are so fitting for this time of year: a pile of snowballs...and they won't make your hands cold!  And just like snowballs, you can also build them into snowmen!

Snowball Cookies

  • 1 c. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. minced walnuts
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter together with 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.  Add the vanilla and flour and blend until smooth.  Mix in the walnuts.  Place the remaining 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

Scoop dough in rounded teaspoons and roll between palms to make a smooth ball.  Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cookies just begin to brown around the edges.  Gently roll cookies in powdered sugar and set on a wire rack to cool.  When completely cool, coat cookies again with powdered sugar.

To make Snowmen:  slowly and gently slide a toothpick down through the top of a cookie.  Make sure there are equal lengths of the toothpick poking out of the top and bottom of the cookie.  Push the bottom portion of the toothpick into the top of a second cookie, and the top of the toothpick into the bottom of a third cookie.  Decorate with mini chocolate chips, frosting, or any other candies.  Make them as simple or as ornate as you like, and have fun!  


(These little guys might be a little happier with arms and a smile, but they're still cute right?)  :)  
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